As we approach the play-offs, SACricketmag.com picks South Africa’s best World Cup XI of all time.
Four members of the current squad have cracked the nod for our greatest South African World Cup XI, selected from the best of the best between 1992 and 2015.
1. Herschelle Gibbs
(CWC Mts: 25; Runs: 1067; Bat Ave: 56.15)
There was no taming – on or off the field – a flamboyant right-hander whose World Cup career started as an opening batsman and ended in the middle order. His tournament six tally of 28 is second only, for South Africans at least, to de Villiers’ 36.
2. Hashim Amla
(CWC Mts: 13; Runs: 613; Bat Ave: 47.15)
Amla would be an ideal cool, calm and collected foil to the oft-cavalier attitude of Gibbs in this hypothetical XI. And to think he was once boxed as a Test match specialist…
3. Gary Kirsten
(CWC Mts: 21; Runs: 806; Bat Ave: 47.41)
Kirsten walked the talk several times on the field before leading India to World Cup glory as head coach in 2011 – and held the event’s highest score of 188 not out, struck against United Arab Emirates in 1996, before Chris Gayle bettered it against Zimbabwe this year.
4. Jacques Kallis
(CWC Mts: 36; Runs: 1148; Bat Ave: 45.92; Wkts: 21; Bowl Ave: 43.04)
South Africa knew his retirement would eventually arrive, and Kallis’ absence is being particularly felt in the ongoing World Cup, where his heaps of experience – let alone runs and wickets – are obviously absent.
5. AB de Villiers (captain)
(CWC Mts: 21; Runs: 1142; Bat Ave: 60.10)
From the Caribbean to the sub-continent – and more recently Australasia – de Villiers’ limits know few bounds. Eight more runs and he will have the most in World Cups by a South African and 90-odd more will see him surpass
8 000 runs in ODI cricket.
6. Mark Boucher (wicketkeeper)
(CWC Mts: 25; Runs: 381; Bat Ave: 27.21; Cts: 31; Sts: 0)
Three World Cups, more than 30 catches and a slew of important lower-order cameos down the line, it remains a huge pity Boucher was not extended a fourth invite in 2011.
7. Lance Klusener
(CWC Mts: 14; Runs: 372; Bat Ave: 124.00; Wkts: 22; Bowl Ave: 22.13)
Kallis was arguably South Africa’s greatest all-rounder, but his World Cup batting average and wickets haul pale in comparison to Klusener, who should be remembered for his sustained tournament greatness rather than his involvement of that 1999 run-out with Donald.
8. Shaun Pollock
(CWC Mts: 31; Wkts: 31; Bowl Ave: 31.29; Runs: 279; Bat Ave: 17.43)
That awful, tournament-ending miscalculation during the 2003 fixture against Sri Lanka aside, Pollock was the man for the big occasion – and is one of only seven South Africans to have secured a World Cup five-for.
9. Dale Steyn
(CWC Mts: 12; Wkts: 21; Bowl Ave: 21.14)
A relatively quiet 2015 campaign has somewhat removed the shine off Steyn’s World Cup record, but can’t take away from his terrific showing in 2011 across low and slow conditions far from conducive to fast bowling. His five for 50 against India is a particular favourite.
10. Imran Tahir
(CWC Mts: 11; Wkts: 25; Bowl Ave: 16.28)
He can’t seem to crack the Test match market, but limited-overs cricket – specifically the World Cup – has been very good to Tahir. A leg-spinner who averages more than two wickets per match at less than 18 runs apiece has every right to be respected.
11. Allan Donald
(CWC Mts: 25; Wkts: 38; Bowl Ave: 24.02)
Leader of the pace-bowling attack through all of four World Cups, Donald was largely the gift that kept on giving – until his body and age caught up with him. Not quite Tahir-esque status, but he too averaged more than one and a half wickets per match.